Tag Archives: new release

Release Day! – Drifter’s Darling

Sep 30, 2016

It’s Release Day for Drifter’s Darling, book 12 in the Culpepper Cowboys series! I know you’ve been waiting for it, so here you go, I won’t make you wait! Get started reading Chapter One right here, and then zip on over to Amazon to pick it up!

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Chapter One

Culpepper, Wyoming had never been a particularly hopping metropolis, but after eight years running the rat race in Denver, it was exactly the speed Elvie O’Donnell was looking for. There were more cows than people per square foot throughout the state, which was good for the vet business Elvie’s brother, Doc, had going in the remote ranching town. It was a vet business Elvie had happily joined when Doc floated the idea to her a couple of months ago. Culpepper was where her heart was.

Culpepper was also a great place to hide.

“Here you go, Raspberry Rush.” Denise Bonneville pulled a tube of lipstick from its display in the cosmetics aisle of Culpepper’s one and only convenience store and handed it to Elvie’s newly-minted sister-in-law, Nancy. “This one will match your complexion much better than the shade I saw you wearing the other day.”

Nancy took the lipstick with a dubious expression. “I’m not used to wearing make-up in the first place.” She rolled the tube in her fingers, reading the ingredients on the back, of all things.

Denise snorted and brushed away Nancy’s comment. “Honey, I’ll help you out all you want.”

“You will?” Nancy’s eyebrows inched up.

“Sure I will. I’ll do your colors too. Oh! Then maybe we can go on a big shopping trip to Cheyenne or something!”

“You planning to do my colors too?” Elvie asked. Her smile reached all the way down to her gut. She hadn’t had a fun group of girl friends since high school.

“I’d love to.” Denise brightened. “Although you’ll be easy to beautify. You’re so pretty already.”

Elvie blushed. The last thing she ever felt was pretty. Competent, yes. Powerful, occasionally. But pretty just wasn’t something she’d ever cared about.

“Thanks,” she managed at last. “I credit whatever prettiness I have to the O’Donnell genes.”

“You guys sure have a lot of them,” Denise grinned, that look coming into her eyes that all women wore when talking about her brothers. “I had such a crush on Doc for all those years. Not that I do now,” she rushed to add for Nancy’s sake, holding up her hands to prove her innocence. “He’s all yours now, and I don’t believe in chasing other women’s men.” She paused. “At least, not anymore.”

Denise’s lighthearted expression drooped. Elvie reached out to squeeze her arm. “We know you don’t.”

“Yeah, and you’re right about the O’Donnell genes,” Nancy said, steered away from the painful subject. “I still can’t believe I managed to bag such a hot guy.”

“They’re all hot, Doc, Sly, and Arch.” Denise perked up a little, then burst into a full, naughty grin. “I don’t know how you and Doc ever manage to leave the bedroom.”

“Let me tell you,” Nancy drawled, arching one eyebrow. “There are days when we don’t.”

“Eew, eew!” Elvie clapped her hands to her ears, laughing. “That’s my brother you’re talking about.”

“Yes it is,” Nancy teased her, licking her lips. She held up her tube of lipstick. “And pretty soon, he’s going to have Raspberry Rush marks all over his body, including his—”

“No!” Elvie laughed even louder. “Who do you think you are, Chastity Culpepper?”

The three of them giggled like a pack of teenagers talking about the guys on the football team. It was the kind of thing that helped Elvie’s soul breathe. The few friends she’d made in Denver didn’t understand why she wanted to leave the vibrant city for Nowheresville, as they called it. But this was it. There was just something about the friendships a girl could make in a small town. These were the ladies she would call in the middle of the night if her crying baby was running a fever.

Not that she had a baby.

Not that she was likely to anytime soon.

“So what shade would you recommend for me?” She turned back to the shelf of cosmetics. “Ooh! I like this one. Cinnamon Sunset.”

She reached for the tube, but Denise pulled it out of her hands. “Not with your coloring. This one is too warm. You need a cooler shade.” She put the Cinnamon Sunset back and reached for a dark rose tube. “This one. Dusty Rose Dreams.”

“Ooh!” Elvie took the tube, and turned to the tiny mirror built into the display, holding the lipstick up to her face. “I like it. Now all I need is someone to make kissy marks all over.”

The other two laughed.

“I’m sure you won’t have any trouble with that,” Denise said, growing wistful again. “Everyone and their brother is probably falling all over you, considering how few women there are around here these days.”

“Not after Sly and Rachel’s stunt,” Nancy corrected her. “The hotel has been packed full of husband-seeking ladies from as far away as Seattle.”

“That was a smart move on my brother’s part,” Elvie added. “And last I heard, Rachel’s underwear company had so many orders that it pushed them way into the black for the year.”

“So she’s going to be able to keep the company?” Nancy asked.

“Yep.” It felt incredibly good to say that.

But as triumphant as Elvie felt, the feeling deflated as soon as she noticed Denise mulling over the lipstick with a sad frown. Elvie exchanged a look with Nancy. Neither of them were going to stand by and let Denise get depressed. Not since discovering how nice the woman really was underneath the layer of prickles and tragedy that Chastity Culpepper had started to scrape away back in the spring.

“I think we need to find a great shade for you,” Elvie said, scanning the tubes of lipstick still in the display.

“Yeah.” Nancy joined in. “We do have a town full of single men, after all. You’re bound to snag one of them.”

“Sriracha Siren?” Nancy held up a spicy-looking tube of lipstick with a hopeful look.

Denise tried to smile. “It’s not going to work,” she sighed.

“Why not?” Elvie put an arm around her and hugged. “If you think it can work for me…”

“Yeah, but you’re thin and pretty and everybody likes you,” Denise said. “I’m fat and mean and I have a reputation.”

“No!”

“That’s not true!”

Elvie and Nancy spoke over each other in their haste to set Denise straight.

Denise held up her hands to stop them. “It’s true. You can’t argue with it. I’m all puffy and doughy.”

“Men like curves on a woman,” Nancy argued.

“And everybody knows all about how mean and spiteful I’ve been all these years,” Denise went on. “I’ve been a royal bee-otch since high school, since Wes Fulbright knocked me up and dumped me.”

“Yeah, well, you ended up with the best part of that whole thing, Destiny,” Elvie argued.

“It’s true, Destiny is an awesome kid,” Nancy agreed.

“She is,” Denise admitted.

“She’s been a super big help over at the clinic,” Elvie added.

“I’m so grateful to you for hiring her after school,” Denise said, then rushed on with, “But that doesn’t change how I’ve behaved since she was born. It doesn’t erase years’ worth of being rotten. And every guy in town knows just how easy I was.”

Was being the operative word,” Nancy rushed to clarify.

“Still, I don’t think I’ll ever find a guy who can love me,” Denise finished, taking the Sriracha Siren out of Nancy’s hand and shoving it back in the display.

“You don’t know that,” Nancy persisted. “I ended up with Doc, even after a billion misunderstandings and false starts. Well,” she cocked her head to the side, “not a billion. But I found him, and I’m lucky.”

“Yeah,” Elvie added. “And I never expected to find a guy who made my heart skip a beat and my girly bits tingle, not after—”

She stopped, clamping her mouth shut. She’d just come way too close to blurting out the big secret she’d been sitting on since the rodeo last month. It wasn’t even a secret either, just something she hadn’t planned on telling anyone. How could she even begin to explain her excitement at the memory of those blue eyes and those shoulders, as broad as the Wyoming horizon, even if she’d only seen them once? Guys like that didn’t come around every day and—

She blinked as soon as she realized her friends were staring at her. “What?”

Nancy grinned and peeked at Denise. Denise smirked and crossed her arms. “You get the feeling there’s something she’s not telling us?”

“Uh-huh.” Nancy crossed her arms as well and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Denise. “Spill it, sister.”

Elvie’s cheeks suddenly went hot. The only way she was going to get out of this with her dignity intact was to act like it was no big deal. “It’s nothing. I was just thinking about the one that got away.”

 

Drifter’s Darling is out NOW! At the moment, it’s exclusive to Amazon and for Kindle Unlimited, but in three short months, it will be available at iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo as well!

Release Day! – His Forbidden Bride/Honoria:The Forbidden Bride

Sep 02, 2016

Release Day is here at last for His Forbidden Bride (spicy version)/Honoria: The Forbidden Bride (sweet version)! And I know a lot of you have been looking forward to Honoria and Solomon’s story for a long, long time. Well, here it is! So who am I to stand in your way? Get started reading Chapter One right now….

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Haskell, Wyoming – 1876

 

Honoria Bonneville was about to go mad. The clock on the mantel of Dr. Abernathy’s office ticked with such deep foreboding that it pulled every nerve in her body taut. She wrung her white handkerchief in her hands as she sat hunched in a spindly chair on the other side of the waiting room from the clock. Her lungs burned, but she fought the urge to cough—fought it and fought it and fought it until she couldn’t hold out anymore.

She burst into a spell of coughing that wracked her from head to toe and made the pale, middle-aged woman sitting across from her start. That woman quickly fell into coughing too, as if Honoria’s outburst were contagious. A third patient—an older man—frowned and hugged himself tightly, as if summoning the willpower to not be made sick by the women. Honoria squeezed her eyes shut, praying for her lungs to be still.

Heaven knew she had enough practice holding her breath and keeping the things that were inside of her from coming out. She’d been biting her tongue and swallowing all of the things she had wanted to say for the past twenty-five years of incessant bullying by her sisters, Vivian and Melinda. She’d even endured snide comments and a turned-up nose from her younger sister, Bebe.

Once upon a time, she’d tried to speak out, to fight back against the unfairness that was heaped on her. It had been easier when she was a small girl and her mother was still alive. Ariana Bonneville had been the one light of hope in young Honoria’s life. She had been the single stabilizing influence in Rex Bonneville’s life—though he’d never appreciated her for it. She’d been the center of Honoria’s world, and when she’d died in childbirth—along with Rex Bonneville’s only son—when Honoria was seven, the light had gone out of her world. And the sense had gone out of the Bonneville family.

Grief that had never healed spilled through Honoria, and she dissolved into another round of wracking coughs that brought tears to her eyes. It was the coughing that made her cry, she insisted to herself, not grief, not pity for her lot in life. As her mother lay dying, her final words to Honoria had been, “Always remember who you are, Honoria. Your honor is your shining light. Hold your head up high, face your trials bravely, and be honest in all things.” There had been words of love and sorrow too, but in every day that passed since then, Honoria had obeyed her mother, behaved with quiet honor, and born the brutality of her sisters and the neglect of her father with as much courage and strength as she could muster…for Mother’s sake.

Now that strength was failing her. She coughed again, in unison with the other woman waiting to see Dr. Abernathy. She’d been strong as long as she could, but for months now Honoria had felt the unmistakable sensation of the Universe holding its breath. Something was about to change.

The door to Dr. Abernathy’s examination room swung open, and Dr. Abernathy himself popped his head into the waiting room. He held a small stack of files that he looked at several times between staring at Honoria, the old man, and the other woman. He shuffled through the papers in the file, cleared his throat, then focused on Honoria.

“With a cough like that, I’d better see you first.”

An unexpected tremor of fear passed through Honoria as she stood and slipped across the waiting room to the examination room. Dr. Abernathy stood back so she could go before him. Once she was inside, hovering anxiously beside a short table, Dr. Abernathy shut the door.

“Let’s see now.” Dr. Abernathy shuffled through the files, mumbling to himself. He set one down on the table, then scowled as he thumbed through the other two. “What an utter nuisance.”

“I’m sorry?” Honoria asked in a small voice.

Dr. Abernathy made a disapproving noise. “Why does Dr. Meyers keep insisting on seeing patients when he is constantly being called out to that blasted Indian reservation?”

Honoria blinked, unsure if she was supposed to answer the question. “I saw Dr. Meyers about my cough this morning.” She opted to explain.

“Yes, and I’m sure your father will have something to say about that,” Dr. Abernathy grumbled. “I’ve been your family doctor for years.”

There was no point in explaining that that was the exact reason she’d seen someone else about her concerns. “Dr. Meyers had just finished examining me—listening to my lungs, testing my sputum with some chemicals he has—when the army officer came to take him to the Cheyenne camp. I…I understand it was an emergency.”

Dr. Abernathy continued to mutter, “Damned inconvenient, if you ask me. Causing me extra work. Those savages don’t deserve it.”

A sudden snap of dislike caught Honoria off-guard, sending her into another coughing fit.

At last, Dr. Abernathy set one of the two files he held aside and his expression lightened. “Ah! Here we are. Just as I suspected.” His countenance turned grave. He stared at her over the top of his glasses. Honoria began to shake, too afraid to ask what he suspected. She didn’t have to ask. “It’s obvious, really,” he went on. “Consumption.”

Honoria’s breath caught in her throat, and the room went dark for a moment. Her legs turned to jelly, and if she hadn’t reached out to grab the examination table, she was certain she would have fallen over. She’d known it. In her heart, she’d known all along. And she knew what consumption was.

It was a death sentence.

“Looks like it’s fairly advanced, going by Dr. Meyers’s notes,” Dr. Abernathy went on, as if describing how a garden wall was built. “The coughing will continue, as will instances of coughing up blood. Yes, yes.” He scanned the rest of the file. “I wouldn’t plan on lasting more than six months to a year.”

“That’s it?” Honoria squeaked, clutching her handkerchief to her chest.

Dr. Abernathy shrugged. “Could be less, could be more.” He cleared his throat and closed the file, tossing it on the table with the others. “If I were you, young woman, I would get my affairs in order.”

The tears that had stung Honoria’s eyes earlier burned hotter. That was it? Twenty-five years and her life was over? She shook her head, her shoulders sinking. Twenty-five years of life and what did she have to show for it? A battered spirit and an empty heart.

What a waste. What a terrible, terrible waste.

Dr. Abernathy cleared his throat. “I have other patients to see. More than usual, thanks to Dr. Meyers.”

Honoria blinked up at him through her shock and grief. That was all he had to say? Censure for Dr. Meyers? After giving her a death sentence? The urge to run filled her.

“Thank you for your time, sir.” She managed to push out the words with a hoarse breath.

Dr. Abernathy grunted, then pivoted to hold the door open for her. Clutching her handkerchief to her chest, Honoria hurried out the door. She tried to hold her head high—like she always did—as she made her way through the waiting room, but as soon as she was out in the hot, July sun of Haskell, she burst into bitter, wrenching tears.

 

Oh no! That doesn’t sound good at all! But is Honoria really dying? Find out by reading either His Forbidden Bride (spicy version) or Honoria: The Forbidden Bride (sweet version) now!

His Forbidden Bride is available at AmazoniBooksBarnes & Noble, and will be available for Kobo soon.

Honoria: The Forbidden Bride is available exclusively at Amazon and for Kindle Unlimited.

 

 

Release Day! – Tycoon’s Tryst

Aug 19, 2016

It’s here! It’s release day for Tycoon’s Tryst, book 10 in the Culpepper Cowboys series! You can go grab your copy now at Amazon and for Kindle Unlimited. It’ll be available on all other platforms in about three months. But why not celebrate now by getting started on Chapter One?

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“I plan to make big changes around here,” Sly O’Donnell commented to his sister, Elvie, with a leonine grin. He turned his convertible to exit the highway and drove onto the scenic country road that would lead them into the center of their hometown, Culpepper, Wyoming.

The late-summer sun baked the ranchland all around them. In the distance, a herd of cattle chewed on wilted grass, and further beyond that, a collection of windmills turned lazily in the faint breeze. As hot as it was, Sly drove with the top down. The car was a leftover from his time in California and admittedly out of place in Wyoming. He figured he should get a truck soon, but for now he still liked the jazzy, silver sign of his success. Especially if it put that scrunched up look on Elvie’s face as her wild, long hair blew around as they drove. She was his sister. Irritating her was his job.

“You really think folks in Culpepper are going to let you walk in and make a bunch of changes?” She turned her pinched and doubtful look on him.

“Once they see what I’ve got in store, sure.” He nodded to emphasize his point. Elvie was only in a bad mood because her engagement had recently fizzled out. Not only was it his job to irritate her, it was his job as big brother to take her mind off her troubles. “They sure did like the Culpepper Stakes,” he argued.

Elvie’s grumpy look softened to a considering one. She shrugged, using both hands to smooth her flying hair back and hold it behind her head. “I’ll give you that much. Arch told me the race was fun, that he was glad to have come out here for it. And of course Doc loved it.”

“Because he won.” Sly grinned.

“No, stupid, because he got the girl.” Elvie let go an unladylike snort. “All you guys ever care about is winning.”

“That’s not true.”

“Ha! I know you, Sly. You’re going to argue with me until I admit that you won the argument.”

He put on his most charming smile for her—the smile that closed deals and had made him a fortune like no one else in Culpepper, Wyoming would be able to imagine.

“Not buying it.” Elvie shut him down.

Sly laughed out loud. He was so freakin’ happy that his sister was moving back to town—to help Doc expand his veterinary business—that it was borderline embarrassing. The O’Donnell family had always done better when they’d stuck together. He loved his siblings like some people loved money and power, and he would gladly have given up all of the latter to keep the former.

It would have been great to find a woman who felt the same way. Too bad there were none in his circles in California. He’d be lying if he said that wasn’t part of the reason he’d moved home to Culpepper. But as it turned out, women of any kind were as rare in Culpepper these days as polar bears were in Punta Cana.

He cleared his throat and pushed his thoughts back onto the track they’d been heading down. “I’m pretty sure that once I’ve gotten started, folks will love my plans for this beautiful old town.”

Elvie arched a brow and sent him a sideways look.

“First was the Culpepper Stakes,” he elaborated. “And you’d better believe we’ll be doing that next year and every year. Then there’s the rodeo next week.”

Elvie let out a breath, giving him a break. “I still don’t know how you managed to get the premier rodeo association to hold an event in Culpepper when the town doesn’t even have a proper facility for it.”

“Yet.” Sly raised a finger. “I’m working on that too. And it’s not a full competition, just an exhibition event.”

“Mmm hmm.” Elvie swiped at her hair again to gather up the ends that had escaped.

“But besides the rodeo, I’m bringing in all sorts of businesses. There’s this guy, Bob, who wants to start a restaurant, Bob’s Burger Barn. That’s definitely going to be a hit.”

“Bob’s Burger Barn?” Elvie grinned.

“Sure, why not? And after that, I want to find a way to bring a top-rated chef in to set up a five-star restaurant. Maybe someone who won one of those cooking competition shows.”

“There you go again with the competitions.” This time Elvie laughed.

Sly loved the sound. It reminded him of some of the better days of their childhood. Heaven only knew there’d been enough bad days, what with all the problems their parents had—with each other and with the bottle. Most of the time, it had been the four O’Donnell children against the world. It still was, as far as he was concerned, but in a far more positive way than those dark days.

“Why don’t you do something charitable?” Elvie asked. “I mean, you’ve got me and Doc working together at Doc’s clinic now. Maybe we could all band together and do something to protect wildlife.”

“Sounds like a good idea,” Sly nodded, then rushed on with, “but I’ve got an even better one. A wedding chapel.”

“A what?” Elvie’s voice rose an octave.

“A wedding chapel. You know, like they have in Vegas. Wyoming is a no-wait state too. And everyone around here has taken to getting married at the drop of a hat, without long engagements. Heck, the Culpepper brothers all had marriages that were arranged by a matchmaker.”

“I heard about that. Not sure what to think.” Elvie’s face darkened, and she fell into chewing her lip, an old habit when she was upset.

Sly reached over and squeezed her arm. “Hey, it’s okay, sis. That guy was a jerk. I’m glad you didn’t marry him. Your time will come, though. I just know it. I mean, you’re the best woman in the world. How could it not?”

Elvie’s tight frown turned into a look that was partway between rolling her eyes at Sly’s praise and thanking him for it. If she continued to doubt herself, Sly would have to intervene. Not that she’d like that much.

“And what about you?” Elvie turned the tables on him. “Are you going to marry the first woman you see in town now?”

Sly laughed. “I don’t think marriage is for me.”

“No?”

He shrugged and used the excuse of keeping his eyes on the road to hide the disappointment he was sure was written on his face at the prospect. “I’ve never met a girl I cared about enough to marry.”

“That’s just sad.”

“Maybe.” It was sad. He’d dated more than his fair share of women, some of them rich and gorgeous, one or two that were a little famous. None of them had given him that feeling of home that he’d always longed for.

“Okay, so why not test the Culpepper waters, now that you’re back?” Elvie pressed him. “There’s got to be some awesome single women here.”

Sly laughed out loud. “Actually, there isn’t.”

“No single women?”

“Let me put it this way.” He shifted in his seat, sending her a quick, teasing look. “The second you step foot in town and put out your shingle, you’re going to have three dozen lonely cowboys and ranchers banging on your door with flowers and chocolates. The men of Culpepper are so desperate for women that they’re willing to import them.”

Elvie crossed her arms. “Well, after Andrew, I’m not ready to date yet. They’ll just have to accept that.” Sly was on the verge of attempting to say something comforting or asking about it—which he had no idea how to do right—when she went on with, “Although the chocolate and flowers wouldn’t be so bad.”

He laughed. “Give it time.”

She sighed and reached up to gather her hair again.

“Anyhow, I have plans to fix the girl situation in Culpepper.” He grinned from ear-to-ear over the plan he’d already started to put in place.

Elvie gave him a wary look. “Sly, what did you do?”

Her scolding reminded him of the ones they would get as kids when they’d crossed the line with their mischief. He put on the same pretend innocent face that he wore back then. “Nothing. I just got to the root of the problem.”

“What’s the root of the problem?”

“Korpanty Enterprises.” He broke into a wolfish smile.

“Oookaaaay.” Elvie drew out the word. “What’s that?”

Sly’s predatory grin grew. “Korpanty Enterprises is the company that held that underwear ad shoot a couple winters ago.”

“The one where all the women in Culpepper got snowed in with a bunch of underwear models for two weeks?” Elvie laughed as she spoke.

“That’s the one.” Sly slowed down and made another turn onto the road that would take them right into the center of town. The spattering of businesses that made up Culpepper proper rolled into view, the relatively new hotel rising up on the other side.

“Korpanty Enterprises is to blame for there not being enough women in Culpepper for all the men who live here,” he went on. “So I’m suing the company.”

“You’re what?”

“I filed the lawsuit last week.”

“What could you possibly sue them for? Theft of hearts? Breach of promise?”

“Willful negligence,” Sly answered triumphantly. “I’m making the case that Korpanty Enterprises was willfully negligent in failing to bring a suitable production staff for that photo shoot, and for employing locals without full disclosure of the dangers of the job.”

“Uh, the danger of meeting a smoking-hot guy and marrying them?”

“Exactly.”

Elvie shook her head as they slowed down and headed for Doc’s office. “You know how stupid that sounds, right?”

“Of course it’s stupid.” Sly chuckled. “Just stupid enough to gain some attention from the media.”

Elvie quirked an eyebrow, so he went on.

“It’s a frivolous lawsuit that I have no chance of winning. But it will gain attention—attention for Culpepper. Not only that, I plan to highlight some of the single, desirable men in town who are now without any prospects locally.”

“Why?”

“Because there are a lot of women out there in the world who would give their eye teeth to relocate to a town packed full of hot, single cowboys, that’s why. And they’ll bring their businesses and spending dollars with them. It will be the perfect boost to the economy and morale of Culpepper. It’ll make the guys happy too.”

“So you’re suing someone to get attention.”

Sly’s grin faltered. His little sister sure did have a way of raining on his parade.

“It’s a win-win situation,” he argued, pulling into a parking spot in front of Doc’s building. “I’m not going to win the lawsuit, so I won’t be hurting Korpanty Enterprises, not really. Just helping Culpepper.”

“You’re sure about that?”

“Of course I am. I’m—”

Whatever he was going to say faded. He turned his head, following a flash of sunlight on golden blonde hair as the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen rose from staring inside the hood of a car just outside of the Culpepper Diner. It was like an arrow hitting him in the heart.

 

Yep! You can keep reading by running over to Amazon to pick up your copy of Tycoon’s Tryst today!

Veterinarian’s Vixen – Release Day!

Jul 08, 2016

It’s here! Your wait is over! Book Eight of the Culpepper Cowboys, Veterinarian’s Vixen, is here! Come join me on this fun romp of misunderstandings and mayhem. There may even be a port-a-potty involved. 😉 Ready to get started? Here’s a bit of Chapter One…

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On paper, Doc O’Donnell’s world was just about perfect. His large animal veterinary business in Culpepper, Wyoming was booming. Led by his good friends, the Culpepper brothers and top-notch trainer, Ryan Bassett, he was gaining a stellar reputation as the region’s foremost expert in equine medicine and rehabilitation. His services were in demand through Wyoming and all the way down to Colorado and out to Utah, even Idaho. Better still, his big brother, Sly O’Donnell, had recently moved into town—for reasons Doc didn’t entirely understand. The two of them drove out to the Culpepper ranch together, catching up on old times. It was great to have his big bro by his side once more, and there were hints that their younger brother, Arch, might come out for the Fourth of July in a couple of weeks.

But as happy as that made him, there was still a gaping hole in Doc’s life…right about where his heart was. A hole that a certain spunky reporter had left him with a few months ago when she left town and disappeared from his life.

“So my plan is for the Culpepper Stakes to become the area’s most prestigious horse race,” Sly rambled, looking out the passenger-side window as vast stretches of sunbaked ranchland rolled by. It was only mid-June, but already things were heating up. “The Fourth of July is a perfect time to have it each year, and we can coordinate the race with other events in town. Imagine the potential for tourists that could be created.”

“Tourists?” Doc asked, knowing it was what Sly wanted him to say so that he could talk more. In reality, his thoughts were elsewhere, imagining a pretty pair of brown eyes. Was it this hot where she was? Did she miss him as much as he missed her?

“Absolutely. Culpepper is lagging way behind economically.” Sly continued his speech, in his element. “Ranching and wind farming can only take a place so far. I would love to do for Culpepper what I did for Ulrich, California.”

Doc sent him a wary sidelong glance, then went back to watching the road as he drove. “What did you do for Ulrich?”

The grin Sly gave him was half the reason he’d been given his nickname. “I took a backwards, sleepy mountain town, brought in a few boutique businesses, invested in camping facilities, and made it one of the finest family outdoor adventure resorts in Northern California.”

“So you want to make Culpepper into a resort destination?” Doc doubted the residents would go for that. He wondered what a certain Miss Nancy Tilson would think.

Sly shrugged. “Not necessarily, but we can do something with the town.”

“We?”

“Sure. Why not? The O’Donnell family has always gotten more done when we work together.”

“I’ll be sure to tell Arch and Elvie you said that,” Doc laughed. He slowed down to make the turn onto the Culpepper ranch.

Sly sat up, staring at Culpepper Confectionary Creations, the bakery that had recently been started by Grace Wells, Patience Bassett, and Felicity Quinlan, the sister and cousins of the Culpepper wives. “That’s an awful lot of cars parked in front of a bakery that’s all the way out here and not in the center of town,” he said.

Doc snuck a peek, then kept driving. “That’s nothing. You should see them around morning coffee time.”

“Really?” Sly turned to him and Doc nodded. Sly whistled. “See, this is exactly the kind of enterprise I intend to build up. Culpepper needs more small businesses like that, businesses that can be destinations in themselves. We can make something of this town.”

Doc thought about arguing that Culpepper already was something to the people who lived there, but he wasn’t in the mood to get into that debate. Sly always won debates. Always. Besides, thinking about the Culpepper family only made that hole in his chest yawn wider. They all seemed to be getting married, lickety-split. In fact, the Culpepper boys had started a trend. Nobody seemed to want to wait to get married anymore. On-the-spot weddings were becoming a fad that was spreading. In fact, if Nancy was here right now, he suspected he’d drop to one knee without a second thought.

“You should start a wedding chapel, like Vegas,” Doc suggested bumping along the drive that led out to the stable. “I’m sure Brother Anthony would love dressing up as Elvis to marry people.”

Sly laughed. “I can see it now.”

That was the other thing that had surprised Doc since Sly showed up in town. His big brother had started attending church. Although as often as not, Brother Anthony’s services were more like going to the circus than a solemn worship ceremony. Still, it didn’t fit with everything Doc knew about his brother.

Doc pulled his truck into a parking spot beside the stable.

Sly rubbed his chin. “You know, I don’t think there’s any waiting period in Wyoming. We actually could build a wedding chapel in Culpepper. Or maybe an entire wedding complex with different themed spaces for different kinds of wedding.” He chuckled. “I can see it now. The medieval chapel, the outer space chapel, the equestrian chapel, the fairy-tale chapel, the superhero chapel, the sexy chapel. Now that would be a draw!”

Doc cut the engine and shook his head. “Talk to Karlan Culpepper about passing ordinances so you can build you wedding wonderland.”

He opened the door and slipped out. Sly got out on his side, and as he walked around the front of the truck, his expression was lit up with ideas. He spread his arms wide and said, “Wedding Wonderland! I can see it now.”

Doc snorted and walked on to the stable. “Mom dropped you on your head when you were a baby, didn’t she?”

Sly caught up and thumped him on the back. “Yeah. Right into a pile of money.”

 

Veterinarian’s Vixen is available now, exclusively at Amazon and for Kindle Unlimited for the time being, but it’ll be available elsewhere in a few months!

Release Day! – Scotsman’s Siren

May 27, 2016

I know, I know, I’ve been falling way behind in the blog department lately. But my spring travels are over, and it’s time to get back to work on a regular schedule! And what better way to start than with the release of Scotsman’s Siren, out today (exclusively at Amazon…for now!) Here’s the first chapter to get you started!

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Chapter One

Angus MacFarlane owed everything to the Culpepper family. Seriously, everything. They’d given him a job, a home, and more affection than his own family could have drummed up if they had a kindness factory that manufactured respect, with a side of common decency, stacked next to all of the other factories in Glasgow. Angus was the last person anyone would expect to find on a ranch in western Wyoming. He was a Glaswegian, a city boy, definitely not one of those romance-novel-worthy Highlanders that the ladies seemed to love. Glasgow was industrial, not rural like Culpepper, and Angus had fled from the city, the country, and the continent as soon as he received his acceptance letter to study agriculture at the first American university that would give him a scholarship. He’d never looked back.

He didn’t look back now as he strode across the spring-wet ground that separated the stables and the working part of the Culpepper ranch from the houses. Linda’s house in particular. He was on a mission—a mission born out of longing so deep he couldn’t name the place it came from. And there was only one person who could help him.

His heart thumped with determination in his broad chest as he stepped up to Linda’s front door. He took a moment to wipe his boots on the doormat, run his fingers through his thick, ginger hair in an attempt to tame it, and to brush whatever dirt he could off of his lightweight summer work shirt before knocking on the door.

A few seconds later, Linda’s voice murmured something on the other side before she threw open the door. “Angus! You know you don’t have to knock. You’re welcome in my house any time.”

Angus smiled from ear-to-ear. “I wouldnae want to intrude.” He emphasized his accent just for Linda, and had ever since the day she confessed that she liked the way he talked. In reality, he’d been losing his Scottish brogue since the day he set foot on American soil.

Linda cuffed him on his arm and gestured for him to follow her inside. “You’re right on time. I just finished making some sweet tea. You like sweet tea, don’t you?” The spark of mischief that lit Linda’s eyes was unmistakable.

Angus grinned, feeling that same mischief himself. “Aye, I do.”

“Well then, come on in and plop your butt down.”

“Aye, ma’am.”

Angus and Linda rounded the corner into the kitchen, and Linda gestured for Angus to take a seat at the kitchen table.

“Actually, Linda—” It was still a challenge for him to call her by her first name instead of ‘Mrs. Culpepper’ the way his manners dictated. “—I’ve come to talk to you about a matter of some importance.” If Angus had a hat with him, he would have been twirling it nervously in his hands.

“Some importance?” Linda shooed Angus toward the table and went to grab glasses and a pitcher of sweet tea from the counter. “That sounds serious.”

“Well, it is. Probably more serious than I know.” He sat down, feeling, as usual, like he might smash the kitchen chair to kindling. He raked a hand through his hair, wishing it would settle down and lay flat. “I wanted to talk to you about women.”

“Oh?” Linda’s brow flew up. She returned to the table with sweet tea and a wide grin. She set the glass down and squeezed Angus’s shoulder before sitting across from him. “Talk to me, cutie.”

It was a term of endearment that his own mother never had and never would use with him, so Angus glowed. “I’ve been thinking about taking a wife.” He leaned his thick forearms on the table and put on his most serious face.

Linda burst into a smile. “That’s fantastic. You got your eye on a young woman in town?”

Angus winced. “No, no there’s not really time for dating with all the work that needs to be done these days.”

Linda studied him, nodding. “True. Those underwear models really did a number on Culpepper’s female population.”

“They sure did,” he agreed.

“So what’s your plan, then?” Linda leaned closer. “Do you want me to give Dr. Lachele a call for you?”

He scrunched his face and hummed. “I don’t know if it’s come to that yet. I was hoping you might know a fine young lady you could set me up with.”

“Me?” Linda sat straighter, pressing a hand to her chest.

“Aye, you.” Angus laughed. “I figure any girl who meets Linda Culpepper’s standards is good enough for me.”

Linda blushed and waved off his compliment. “Shucks, Angus. I can’t remember the last time anyone said anything that nice to me.”

“But it’s true,” Angus went on. “You’re a fine judge of character. If you say a woman is grand, then I’m sure she’s grand.”

“Thanks for putting so much trust in me.” Linda beamed.

“It’s well-deserved.” Angus nodded, then kept his head lowered, fighting the heat that came to his face. “And the fact is, well, I’m not the best with the ladies.”

“Psht, I find that hard to believe,” Linda said. “A handsome and sweet guy like you?”

The praise settled uneasily on Angus’s shoulders. “Oh, they like me well enough, but…well, I dunno. I’ve never been able to get anything to work out. At this point, I’d rather trust in someone else’s judgment.”

“I see.” Linda settled back in her chair, giving him a once-over. “And watching my boys get hitched through a matchmaker has turned you on to a whole new way to find a bride.”

“If you want to put it that way.”

She hummed and tapped a finger to her lips. “I’ve got an idea.”

“You do?” Angus sat straighter. He knew it’d been a good plan to come to Linda.

“You know that the quads have younger sisters, right?”

“Aye.” He nodded. “I’ve heard your boys talking about them.”

“Well, they’re coming out here in about a month. Joy has this idea that she wants Grace to marry our lawyer friend, Marcus Wells. That leaves Honor on her own.” She narrowed her eyes and studied Angus a bit more. “I think you would like Honor.”

“Honor.” He spoke the name aloud, liking the way it sounded. “What do you know about her?”

Linda shrugged. “Only that she’s a bit of a tomboy. She does woodworking and makes all the cradles for Faith’s doll business. Reading between the lines, I think she took the brunt of their parents’ scolding, but from what I can gather, that’s probably because she’s the most different of the girls.”

“I see.” Angus leaned back in his chair, rubbing the coarse stubble on his chin. “Does Honor have an email account?”

“One her parents don’t know about?” Linda added, guessing perfectly where his thoughts were going. “I’m sure Joy would know.”

“Could you find out for me?” Angus was beginning to feel more excited than he’d felt in years.

“Sure.” Linda grinned and reached across the table to pat his hand. “Hey, if everything works out between you and Honor and the two of you get hitched, you’ll be family for real.”

Something huge and warm exploded in Angus’s chest. He would have given just about anything to be a real part of the Culpepper family.

“I’ll email Honor and start talking to her right away.” He paused in the middle of getting up. “You don’t think she’d find me too forward, talking about marriage right off the bat?”

Linda chuckled. “If the quads can get married at the spur of the moment because of a matchmaker, and if Grace is thinking of marrying Marcus because Joy says she should, then I don’t see why Honor wouldn’t be open to marrying you after a few emails.”

That gave Angus hope. He finished standing. “We’ll see, then. But it sounds like Honor Quinlan and I might be just what the other needs.”

 

Be sure to pick up Scotsman’s Siren at Amazon today! Also available for Kindle Unlimited!